Iloilo City

Wow Paraw Festival showcases Ilonggo boat-making skills, passion for the seas

Erwin Delilan

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Wow Paraw Festival showcases Ilonggo boat-making skills, passion for the seas

Colorful boat entries grace this year's Paraw Regatta Festival, bringing added vibrance and festivity to Iloilo City, on Sunday, March 3, 2024.

Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas FB page

The Iloilo Festival Foundation says Wow Paraw promotes the preservation of traditional boat-making skills and sustainable practices in fishing in Iloilo

BACOLOD, Philippines – Amid vibrant hues and the rhythmic dance of sails, the 51st Paraw Regatta Festival (PRF) of Iloilo City, also known as Wow Paraw, reached its crescendo on Sunday, March 3 as it drew 39 skilled boat makers and sailors from the provinces of Iloilo and Guimaras.

The festival, an event which celebrates the rich Hiligaynon heritage annually, showcased traditional boat racing, where participants skillfully maneuvered their de layag boats adorned with captivating imagery and a palette of striking colors.

Paraw refers to a boat propelled by sail, while layag denotes the sail itself, embodying the essence of wind-driven navigation in Hiligaynon tradition.

COLORFUL. Boat entries in this year’s 51st Paraw Regatta boat sailing competition in Iloilo City. courtesy of Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas FB page

Setting sail from Villa Beach in Arevalo District of Iloilo City, the traditional Ilonggo boat racing traversed the azure waters, extending its reach to the shores of Buenavista town in the neighboring island-province of Guimaras.

Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas, in high spirits, said this year’s Wow Paraw Festival left a lasting impression not only locally but also internationally. 

He said the festival’s charm lies in the captivating local narrative of maritime tradition, cultural richness, and triumphant achievements.

Aside from its tourism appeal, Joyce Ann Clavecillas, executive director of the Iloilo Festival Foundation Incorporated (IFF), said Wow Paraw promoted the preservation of traditional boat-making skills and sustainable practices in fishing in the city. 

She noted that through the festival, Ilonggos demonstrated their deep affection for the seas, a vital source of their livelihood through fishing.

Festival history

According to Ilonggo historian Nereo Lujan, the inception of PRF traces back to 1973 at Anhawan Beach Resort in Oton town, Iloilo Province. 

Initially managed by the tourism department in Western Visayas during the time of former Tourism Secretary Jose Aspiras, PRF was conceived to promote local festivals nationwide. Subsequently, it was integrated into Iloilo City’s annual Ati-Atihan celebration, later renamed Dinagyang Festival in 1973.

Over time, the management of PRF transitioned from DOT to the city government and eventually to IFFI, morphing as a cherished tradition in Iloilo City’s cultural landscape.

Clavecillas said the PRF is one among the oldest sailing tilts in the country, something the IFFI wants to continue and preserve “at all cost.”

She said the PRF’s race director, Bob Somosa, would expand the race and include the juniors category in the competition to allow the young Ilonggos to develop the passion for the heritage skills both in boat making and boat sailing.


The following are the winners in three different categories:

Category A

  • Champion: Boat Arlyn owned by Orlando Demetillo Sr.
  • First runner-up: Boat LD owned by Wennie Demetillo
  • Second runner-up: Boat Ninia & Issiah

Category B

  • Champion: Boat Masboi 8 owned by Mike Sinel
  • First runner-up: Boat Jaguar RC owned by Reman Balidiong
  • Second runner-up: Boat H.M. owned by Hector Espinosa

Category C

  • Champion: Boat Ashley owned by Teody Belejero
  • First runner-up: Boat Vaughn owned by Nicanor Gad
  • Second runner-up: Boat Kim Aron owned by Efren Aguirre –

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